12 June 2010

Books: I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells (2009)


It appears that when I Am Not A Serial Killer was released in hardcover, it was displayed in the Young Adult section of the bookstore. Now out in paperback, the novel is actually in the mystery section. Perhaps, though, it should be in the horror section.

The novel is a sort of hybrid of the Dexter books by Jeff Lindsay and the early works of Stephen King (in particular IT), with the added bonus of teen angst and you get this clever, gruesome, yet boldly written story about 15 year-old John Wayne Cleaver.

John has realized he is turning into a sociopath - his therapist knows he is - who spends his days and nights (while not at school) helping out in his family's mortuary. He is also obsessed with serial killers, which disturbs his mother. He has very little emotion or empathy, and frequently has to stop himself from losing control of his inner demon. He has his own set of personal rules that helps keep the monster that is in him at bay.

But when a serial killer begins stalking his home town, John decides he must find out who is doing it, and sets out to discover what exactly is the killer, all while trying not to let the evil that is in him get out.

I can see why this novel was removed from the YA section; while some teens maybe interested in serial killers, I’m guessing this won’t appeal to a mass audience of teens. His loneliness and alienation from his family and the folks around him could help teen readers relate to him, but the novel is also gory and gives great detail of what happens in a mortuary - you get a great discourse in the art of embalming. More than I really cared to know, to be honest.

Still, Dan Wells has created a dark, very satirical voice in the character of John. He speaks bluntly, even though some of its quite dark. He’s chilling and endearing, and you sometimes could not help but feel some sympathy for the boy. Yet, as I finished it, I wondered if I or anyone else should.

1 comment:

Sean said...

I like the new layout.